Willis Stein & Partners

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Willis Stein & Partners
Private Ownership
Industry Private Equity
Founded 1995; 23 years ago (1995)
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, United States
Products Private equity funds, Leveraged buyouts
Total assets $3.0 billion[1]
Website www.willisstein.com

Willis Stein & Partners is a private equity firm focused on leveraged buyout transactions for middle-market companies.

The firm's most notable investments have included Ziff Davis, Roundy's, Jays Foods, Lincoln Snacks Company and Petersen Publishing Company (publisher of Motor Trend).

The firm is headquartered in Chicago and was founded in 1995.


Prior to founding the firm John Willis and Avy Stein were executives of Continental Illinois Venture Corp. (CIVC), the private equity arm of Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company. When Continental Illinois was acquired in 1994 by Bank of America, John Willis and Avy Stein, who had run the group at Continental Illinois left to form Willis Stein & Partners. They were quickly able to raise over $300 million of investor commitments.

Subsequently, the remaining CIVC team would form a semi-independent private equity firm, CIVC Partners with backing from Bank of America. CIVC is today a mid-sized middle-market private equity firm based in Chicago. CIVC announced in 2007 it was seeking to raise its first private equity fund with primarily third-party capital.

Since its inception in 1995, Willis Stein has raised three private equity funds with nearly $3.0 billion of investor commitments. As of 2007, the firm had announced the launch of a fourth fund. Due to mixed results in its 2000 vintage fund, Willis Stein waited nearly eight years before launching a new fund and when it did so the firm significantly decreased its target fund size relative to its last fund.[2]

  • Willis Stein & Partners (1995) - $343 million
  • Willis Stein & Partners II (1998) - $840 million
  • Willis Stein & Partners III (2000) - $1.8 billion
  • Willis Stein & Partners IV (Announced) - $1.0 billion target

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Capital raised since inception
  2. ^ "Willis Stein Said to Target $1 Billion Fund." New York Times, March 26, 2008